Monday, August 06, 2007

as fickle as a paper doll

I was set to sit on my ass for the next few weeks and grasp at straws for blog posts, but Stephanie hit town, so we hit the St. Vincent show at Cafe du Nord for her visit. Thus, I'll spend only two weeks grasping at straws before the next rock tourism jaunt. Mark your calendars (ha)!

St. Vincent/Death Vessel/Ferraby Lionheart, Cafe du Nord, August 3, 2007: Among this triple bill, the only performance I can really address is that of Ferraby Lionheart, my hook for convincing Stephanie to come to the show. I hadn't heard a note of his music, but that's never stopped me before. In fact, I'm probably more likely to skip a gig if I'm familiar with--and turned off/bored/underwhelmed by--an artist's repertoire; sometimes the element of surprise is the best factor a new musician has working in his or her favor.

Just before the gig, Stephanie mentioned that Ferraby reminds her of Townes Van Zandt, a comparison that rang in my mind for the entire gig. It was an apt parallel, borne out by the twang-touched, Western-inspired guitar tunes that comprised half the set. Making generous use of the reverb on his voice, he brought to mind the singing cowboys of yore, though his lyrics felt more modern in their concerns.

The other half of the set, Ferraby took to the electric piano, and at first, the songs sounded less distinctive. The second number, we agreed, started out like an eels tune, teetering and sheepish, before turning on a Rufus Wainwright-esque flourish. They picked up steam, but I definitely preferred him on the guitar.

Toward the end of the set, he graced us with a cover that I didn't recognize until Stephanie elbowed me at the start of the second verse. It was "Crazy for You," reimagined as something worthier of Dolly Parton than Mrs. Guy Ritchie. I can't blame him; as much as I've tried to resist her, Madonna was undoubtedly part of the fabric of my teenage years.

We had to retreat by the second song of Death Vessel's set, but not before being struck by the contradictions he presented. With a name like that, I expected some goth group, but it turned out to be a lone metal-looking guy with an acoustic guitar, a high, androgynous voice, and extremely earnest though monochromatic tunes.

Because of Cafe du Nord's unforgiving stage times, we couldn't stay for all of St. Vincent's set, but I thought she was dynamite in the snippet we caught. When I saw her back in January opening for Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, she was definitely intriguing, but in the interim, she's added a whole other dimension to her show. Some of the credit has to go with her backing band, who brought out the textures only hinted at in her solo treatment. Of the handful of tunes we caught, she was interchangeably arty, rocking, and lyrical. Once again, she made use of an odd percussive implement (a mannequin's arm?), though her crush on Sufjan Stevens didn't come up this time. I think I'll be back for more when she inevitably returns.

See also:
» done well is so much fucking better

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